Today I’m pleased to welcome Phillipa Ashley to the blog. Phillipa is the author of Decent Exposure, Wish You Were Here, Just Say Yes, It Should Have Been Me, Fever Cure, Miranda’s Mount, It Happened One Night, The First Time We Met (as Pippa Croft), The Second Time I Saw You (as Pippa Croft), Third Time Lucky (as Pippa Croft) and Summer at the Cornish Café and her latest novel, Christmas at the Cornish Café was published by Avon on 13 October 2016.
Today Phillipa talks about Christmas in July.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY, SUMMER IN FEBRUARY
It’s pushing 300 C, I’m sitting at my patio table in the shade, a chilled drink to hand. The bees are buzzing round the flower tubs and I’m writing about – Christmas lights, sleet and turkey!
It seems we all love seasonal books at the moment, whether they’re escapist beach reads, cosy Christmas novels or spring romances. These warm, feel good books are a lot of fun to write, especially with a continuing series like the Cornish Café trilogy.
However, the tricky part is getting into the festive – or the holiday spirit – because you’re almost always writing in the ‘wrong’ season.
Believe it or not, even though I celebrated my 10th publishing ‘anniversary’ in October, Christmas at the Cornish Café is my first Christmas novel. Ironically, my debut–Decent Exposure – was actually turned into a US TV movie called 12 Men of Christmas but it was never written as a Christmas book. (You can see it on the Christmas 24 channel at the moment by the way.)
When I started Christmas at the Cornish Café, I decided cast aside the weirdness of writing a festive book in the summer and just throw myself full on into the seasonal spirit. The book starts in October and follows a couple, Demi and Cal, as they prepare their new café and holiday resort for a Cornish Christmas. They’ve both had a tough time and they’re finally getting their business – and their relationship – off the ground.
Even though there’s snow on the cover of the book, there’s no white stuff inside, because you rarely see any in coastal west Cornwall. What you do get are storms, gales and giant seas – all perfect for the dramatic events of the story.
To get into the Cornish Christmas spirit, I did a lot of research into seasonal traditions and food. My favourite scene revolves around a lively Harbour Lights festival where secrets are revealed for all the characters. While I was writing it, I visited cookery sites and really tried to conjure up the aromas and tastes of autumn and Christmas from fresh holly to mulled wine. In September, I even managed to lay my hands on a box of mince pies, strictly for research purposes, of course.
When I’m writing out of season, I visit nature websites to find out which flowers and plants will be in bloom. I also use a site called Time and Date to check when the sun rises and sets – because on a sizzling July day, it’s hard to imagine that in the winter, darkness falls at four o’clock.
I’m now finishing the final book in the series, Confetti at the Cornish Café. Here in my writing room, the curtains have been drawn since five pm and snow is forecast later. In my fictional world, though, it’s spring, with long light evenings, Easter eggs and the bluebells nodding their heads in the copse. And I must admit that while Christmas is a magical time, on a dark cold night like this, I’m more than happy to pretend it’s spring…
About the book:
“A delicious festive treat with as many twists and turns as a Cornish country lane’ Jules Wake
The festive, feel-good follow-up to Summer at the Cornish Cafe.
Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.
She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond and somewhat mysterious writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?
Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.
A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?
This second novel in the bestselling Cornish Cafe series is the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas.”